Art (and Music) that makes you think
As a child, I listened to H.G. Wells War of the Worlds and how aliens were taking over - a story that when it was first released in 1897 created panic in fear of the machines. My bedroom was adorned with posters, of Sid Vicious, Blondie, listening to Never Mind The Bollocks, Pink Floyd, The Wall, and the latest tunes on the radio courtesy of John Peel. My first single Bohemian Rhapsody and the demise of a young boy killing a man, and the Boomtown Rats rattling out I Don't Like Mondays with its chilling reality.
All of these things had one thing in common, they made me think. They fuelled my mind to explore the thoughts and perspectives of others, to try and understand others' points of view and how they saw the world, as opposed to my own myopic lens and limited experiences at that time.
The work of artist Juliana Coles interests me with the abstract of her art and words together challenging the status quo. Of Scottish artist, Jack Vettriano and his mysterious and romantic art with its sometimes sinister undertones. Then the likes of Shepard Fairey, Obey Giant manufacturing quality dissent since 1989.
It's the messages that all of these artists secrete in their works and the insights they provide, no less so than the wise words of Baz Luhrmann, and his Everyones Free (to wear sunscreen).
"Don't worry about the future, or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday..."
It was my daughter that first introduced me to INZO, and Overthinker, the words, and the music combined reinforce my lifelong fascination with how we all think, what we all think, and why.
"A person who thinks all the time. Has nothing to think about except thoughts. So, he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions. By thoughts, I mean specifically, chatter in the skull. Perpetual and compulsive repetition of words, of reckoning and calculating. I'm not saying that thinking is bad. Like everything else, it's useful in moderation..."
"A good servant, but a bad master, and all so-called civilized peoples have increasingly become crazy and self-destructive. Because through excessive thinking they have lost touch with reality. That's to say, we confuse signs with the real world..."
Another share from my daughter is a controversial young art duo of Beijing-based artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, and their industrial robotic creation, Can't Help Myself. The giant robot is a guard of sorts, in a glass room, dutifully shoveling a pool of dark liquid, resembling the consistency of blood, repeatedly, seemingly getting nowhere - the more frantic the robot grows, shoveling the liquid in a move that leaves behind smears and traces of red.
Originally displayed in the Guggenheim Museum, Can't Help Myself attracted a lot of attention and different interpretations and emotions - what do you think?
Then recently, I visited the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, and came across Korean artist Nam June Paik, and his mesmerizing exhibition of sights and sounds surely designed to test the limits of one's thinking. What's amazing is that this is no longer modern art, Paik was plying his wares back in the 1960s.
He was a visionary experimental artist who bridged art, music, performance, and technology in groundbreaking ways, and whose influence is still felt in the art, pop culture, music, and film of today.
One of the first truly global and transnational artists, Paik foresaw the importance of mass media and new technologies, coining the phrase ‘electronic superhighway’ in 1974 to predict the future of communication in an internet age. The exhibition celebrated Paik’s collaborative approach that transcended genres and traditions, while also highlighting the artist’s innovative, playful, and profoundly radical work.
And then, as I write this piece, there is one prophetic speech going back to 1940, and Charlie Chaplin, normally known for his slapstick comedy, delivers what many have described as the greatest speech of all time.
The Greatest Speech of All Time? What do you think?
"I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world, there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way..."
All these examples contrast except for one common theme - each one of them made me think - the thoughts and intentions of each of the artists, how in different ways, each is prophetic. People in the moment who looked at different things differently and in turn each one has made me think differently too.
I thank each of these artists (and others - the list is very long) for inspiring me in many ways including my writings so far - my artistic intent is to prompt my readers to think about each of the stories and to decipher the fact from the fiction.
Willy Mitchell is an indie author, writer, and storyteller.
Mitchell's first title was Operation ARGUS, and then the sequel Bikini BRAVO where a group of former Special Air Service operatives enter the dark and murky world of maskirovka and discover the lengths that some people will go to for power and greed.
Cold COURAGE tells the epic tale of Shackleton's 1914 Trans-Antarctic Expedition and all that was happening in those extraordinary times.
Book four, Northern ECHO tells the story of two boys growing up during the punk rock revolution in the north of England, and how a dark secret keeps them apart until the end.
Gipsy MOTH is about his Aunt Nikki, her friend, and fellow Aviatrix, Amy Johnson, and Amelia Earhart on the other side of the pond during the golden age of aviation.
SS INDIGO is due to be released by the end of 2021 and tells the story of a group of eclectic guests invited by a mysterious billionaire to a luxury cruise on the Caribbean, they all have one thing in common.
All of Mitchell's books so far are novels, works of fiction, blended with real events. For further information or how to buy his books, visit his author website: